National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) has extended the University of Rochester Medical Center’s (URMC) membership in the Network for Excellence in Neuroscience Clinical Trials, or NeuroNEXT, which was created to accelerate clinical research involving new treatments for neurological disorders. The $1.5 million grant to URMC will provide patients in the region access to cutting-edge experimental therapies and continue the Medical Center’s key role in helping bring new drugs to market.
“Neurological diseases are some of the most challenging in all of medicine and the process of translating promising discoveries into new treatments requires building partnerships across many institutions in order to create the infrastructure necessary to recruit patients and run multi-site clinical trials,” said Robert Holloway, M.D., M.P.H., chair of the URMC Department of Neurology and principal investigator of the URMC NeuroNEXT site. “The Medical Center has a long history in the field of experimental therapeutics and we are proud to be a part of NeuroNEXT and to support efforts that will make clinical research better, faster, and more efficient in the quest to aid patients and families affected by neurological disease.”
In 2011, URMC was one of the original 25 institutions selected to participate in NeuroNEXT. The network was created to streamline the operations of neuroscience clinical trials and help increase the number of new treatments that get into clinical practice. The program is designed to encourage collaborations between academic centers, disease foundations, and industry.
Over the several years, URMC has been involved in NeuroNEXT studies involving the testing of new drugs for myasthenia gravis, multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, stroke, brain cancer, and neuropathy. “We could not have accomplished this without the phenomenal talent and dedication of our faculty, study coordinators, and research teams.” said Erika Augustine, M.D., M.S., co-Investigator on the grant.
“One of the advantages of NeuroNEXT, and something that makes it unique, is the network’s ability to quickly mobilize a group of specialists from a certain disease area to initiate a clinical study when opportunities emerge for trials,” said Robin Conwit, M.D., program director at NINDS. “The structure of NeuroNEXT, with its broad focus across neuroscience clinical studies, has the potential to reach many individuals who are affected by brain disorders.”
The Medical Center’s site – dubbed UR NEXT – has made significant contributions to the success and vitality of the network. URMC is the dominant provider of comprehensive neurological care in upstate New York with growing referral networks that have a regional, national, and international reach. This breadth of geographic reach and specialization of services has resulted in the Medical Center being one of the network’s leading performers in terms of clinical trial recruitment and performance.
The Medical Center is also home to the Experimental Therapeutics in Neurological Disease post-doctoral training program now entering its 28th year of continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health, and the Center for Health + Technology (CHeT), a unique academic-research organization with decades of experience in development, management, and operation of multi-site clinical trials.
“The complexity of neurological diseases and the ever evolving nature of scientific innovation in this field mean that we must look always to the future and build the teams that turn new discoveries into new ways to diagnose, treat, and prevent these diseases,” said Jonathan Mink, M.D., Ph.D., co-investigator on the grant who is leading Rochester’s training of its investigators. “The UR NEXT grant will help us train the next generation of experts in leading and conducting multi-center clinical trials.”
In addition to URMC’s role as a NeuroNEXT site, the Medical Center has two additional key roles supporting the national network. The URMC Clinical Materials Services Unit – part of CHeT – provides logistical support and drug supply distribution services for NeuroNEXT clinical trials and URMC LABS provides central laboratory services for the network.